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Supporting Women to Give Birth At Home

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Title: Supporting Women to Give Birth At Home   

Author: Mary Steen

Publisher: Routledge, 2012

Reviewer: Jane Brown, patient safety advisor, Worcs Acute NHS Trust


What was it like?

Home birth can be both controversial and high risk, but it is an option that women can take to give birth at home. This book explores the risks and benefits of planning and having a baby at home. We hear the stories of when it goes wrong but not always when this goes well and this book wants to give the midwife the tools and expertise to aid the mother in her options.

The book begins with the fact that homebirth was custom and practice for a long time, but with risks, the mother’s option was literally to have her baby in hospital. It sets out that it need not be risky to have a baby in the home environment.


As the uptake by mothers is low, it is hoped by publishing this book that this may be more of an option and less frowned upon.

What were the highlights? 

This title is written by various experienced senior midwives, university lecturers and community midwives with experience in home births. There is a collection of real-life case studies, which have been anonymised. This includes midwives’ comments, which are well written. For the midwife the scenarios are there to be reflected upon. There is a good evidenced-based debate within the Supporting Homebirth chapter. It is well set out and easy to read.

I particularly liked the illustration line drawings, which have a caring and professional aspect to them.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The book is well indexed. Each chapter is broken down to each subject, which makes it easy for the reader to go to the area they want to access quickly.

Although this book is favouring the homebirth option for mum, it does set out the emergencies that can occur and the midwife would deal with these in the home environment rather than in the hospital setting.

At the end of each chapter there are pages of references highlighting the amount of evidenced-based material that has been incorporated into this book. This is impressive.

I have found no weaknesses in this book as it is well evidenced, professional and does highlight the issues that can go wrong, but what can be done to rectify this when giving birth at home.

Who should read it?

This should be a book that is on every midwife’s job description that will be caring for the mum who is contemplating and has her child at home, regardless of the grade of staff.

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